Beliefs concerning sexual health problems and treatment seeking among men in an Indian slum community

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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This study explores the sexual health problems and treatment-seeking behaviour of men in a Mumbai slum population. Men consider wet dreams, masturbation, early ejaculation, sexual weakness, and other semen-related issues as serious sexual health problems. Suppression of sexual desire was one of the major causes perceived by men for wet dreams, whereas masturbation was seen as the major cause for perceived early ejaculation and distortion in the shape of penis. Excessive loss of semen in any form, including through masturbation and frequent intercourse, was seen as causing most sexual health problems. These beliefs impact on subsequent behaviour, including treatment seeking. In this community-based study, about 45% of men reported to be currently suffering from one or more sexual health problems. One in every four who reported experiencing any problem sought treatment, mostly from the private sector that included a large number of unqualified and untrained providers. The present analysis stresses the importance of understanding these issues for sex education programmes and argues that traditional sexual health providers should be made an integral part of community-based STD/HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.